Dismissed National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers will now know their fate by next week after being in limbo for more than two years, Chairman of the Employment Rights Tribunal Hal Gollop, QC, has assured.
“Certainly by the second week in July . . . I give that assurance,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Gollop had previously promised a ruling on the unfair dismissal cases brought by the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) at the end of June. However, that ruling was not forthcoming and he now said: “We are coming close to giving a decision on both matters.”
The workers were sent home in April 2014 after the Freundel Stuart administration announced that 3,000 public servants would be axed as part of belt tightening measures to remedy the ailing economy.
Both the BWU and the NUPW bitterly opposed the NCC retrenchments, insisting that the Government’s last in, first out policy was not applied. They demanded a recall of the process charging that their members had signed letters of retrenchment under duress or in ignorance.
But repeated negotiations between NCC management, the unions and even the intervention of the Chief Labour Officer yielded no progress and the matter was subsequently turned over to the Prime Minister, who referred it to the Employment Rights Tribunal.
After a lengthy delay, the NUPW’s case was heard and wrapped up in April. Gollop then angered the public workers’ union by announcing he would reserve a ruling until after the BWU’s case was dispensed with. That hearing ended on May 12.
Gollop today explained: “Given the nature of the two actions . . . that is why in the first place we thought it prudent from a legal sense to wait until the other was heard and kill two birds with one stone, because the legal principles involved are the same.”
He revealed there was a difference in the evidence presented by the BWU and the NUPW, but said it would be clearly explained in the decision.